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A Texas police union is joining a chorus of outraged voices condemning the “total failure” of a system that allowed a career criminal to go free and kill an 80-year-old woman.
The Houston Police Officers’ Union posted scathing rebukes of the state’s criminal justice reform after a man arrested more than 70 times was freed on no bond and went on to murder the grandmother in broad daylight.
“Randy Lewis should never have been free. Now an innocent woman has been murdered. Everyone deserves better. This is absolutely shameful,” the Houston Police Officers’ Union tweeted Monday, referring to the 38-year-old suspect who was out of jail after bond was waived back on April 30.
Union president Joe Gamaldi also tweeted, calling out the “monster who stabbed, murdered, robbed an innocent 80 yr old grandmother.”
“The colossal failure of bail and CJ reform in Houston is on full display here. Innocent people are dying. This has to STOP!!” Gamaldi wrote.
— Houston Police Officers’ Union (@HPOUTX) May 18, 2020
Lewis allegedly stabbed Rosalie Cook in the chest outside of her car in a Walgreens parking lot after she had been shopping in the store. Lewis, who was reportedly armed with a 6-inch blade, was shot and killed when he lunged at a responding officer who found him inside Cook’s car trying to start it.
“What makes me angry is that this suspect stabbed an 80-year-old woman,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a news briefing. “He then goes down and starts rifling through her stuff and then tries to steal her car.”
“This is tragic, but the most tragedy here is a woman that has died from a guy who attacked her for no reason other than to steal from her and carjack her,” he added.
Lewis had been charged with assaulting a public servant while he was being transferred to county jail two years ago, KHOU reported. His record of 67 arrests included charges of assault, theft, trespassing, the possession of marijuana and burglary of a vehicle. He was deemed “temporarily incompetent,” and committed to a psychiatric hospital in October 2019.
According to Fox News:
In March, a judge approved a request from the head of the mental facility that Lewis’ stay be extended by 60 days.
On April 30, a judge waived two bonds — one for felony theft, the second for the assault on the peace officer – and approved his transfer to a private residential care facility. By May 1, he was released to the Royal Personal Care Home. He somehow escaped before Saturday’s incident, but few details were released by authorities.
“Nobody should have to go through this, an 80-year-old woman, disabled, had to walk with a cane,” the victim’s son, Chuck Cook, said of his mother who had six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“The justice system let us down,” he told KHOU. “There is absolutely no reason this man should have been out on the street, absolutely no reason at all.”
Others were equally outraged.
“Where’s the outrage when our cops are putting their lives on the line arresting the same person time and again who’s got a violent history,” Acevedo said angrily at the news briefing.
“Why was he out? He’s been arrested 67 times, charged 67 times,” Gamaldi demanded to know. “And now we have an 80-year-old woman who is dead.”
“The defendant had a history of mental illness and he should have been kept off the streets. He recently absconded from the personal-care facility where the judge ordered he live instead of being held in jail,” the Houston District Attorney’s Office said in a statement, pointing the finger of lame at the judge.
“The judge had not issued a warrant for his arrest even when he had absconded, so police did not even know to look for him and unfortunately this tragedy occurred before he could be returned to court,” the statement read.
Cook’s son vowed to become involved in efforts to change the system.
“Right now, we’ll celebrate mom’s life but then, it’s certainly my intention to become active in victim’s rights,” he told KTRK. “I’m not sure what shape that’ll take, but I’ll certainly apply my energy, my voice and my resources to right this wrong. These policies have to change.”
The Houston incident is one of multiple reports of inmates being released on no-bail policies, many in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Reports abound of freed prisoners going on to commit atrocious crimes, some within minutes – such as the California case last week where a 28-year-old attempted to strangle a child and hijack a car just 10 minutes after getting out of jail.
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